Monday, 7 December 2015

Devils haircut



Summer has arrived. The air is hot, dry and dusty. The trees are still green, the ground is turning yellow and brown, and the vegetation is drying. A eucalyptus haze hangs over the mountain. You can smell the trees. Grass now crunches beneath my feet and bidgee widgee burrs stick to my shoes (also Sir Scruffy). The drone of insects buzzing around flowers evokes memories of hot summer days as the birds are wisely quiet during the heat of the afternoon. When the heat is intense enough the cicadas sing their summer song in the mid-afternoon slump.

And so you may wonder what I’ve been up to in those hot mid-afternoons? Well, the early heat wave this week has forced me to rise early in the morning and stop all outside work by about 1pm. It is just so hot that working in the full sun is not an option. Summer is a time of lazy afternoons and the editor thought that the regular commenters may appreciate seeing the exact conditions under which I labour replying to the many lovely comments to this blog:
The author hard at work on a hot lazy summer afternoon replying to comments on the blog
No, I won’t argue with you, it is a hardship which I’ll stoically endure…

Unfortunately, it isn’t all just lazing around on long hot summer afternoons. Those lazy afternoons are the perfect time to begin the continuing process of preserving the summer goodies so that in the depths of winter a person (me) can enjoy a brief recollection of those long lazy summer afternoons.

This week was my first foray into the world of preservation of fruit by the process of dehydration. I recently purchased a second hand Fowlers Vacola (Ultimate 4000 dehydrator) electric food dehydrator and am today using it for the very first time here preserving apricots and cherries. The entire drying process can take between 10 and 16 hours and it is a great use of solar electricity that would otherwise have gone to waste.

I have previously wondered why lemon trees were so popular in old gardens down under. In the older inner urban areas of Melbourne, it seems as if every single household used to have a century old lemon tree which produced huge quantities of fruit every single year – without a care or thought by the owners of the property. As a child, I can distinctly recall the feel and smell of climbing in the very old lemon tree that my Grandmother had. In more recent years however, no one seemed to ever know what to do with the lemons.

Over the past year or so I started having to contend with the realities of what to do with several hundred lemons per year from the fruit trees here. And the answer finally popped into my head this morning. Lemons provide a cheap and easily available form of citric acid which was traditionally used for preserving. If you are making jam – you can use lemons to provide the acid which assists with the preserving process. Most other preserving processes use lemons to provide enough acid to ensure that nasty bugs don’t make you sick later on or that the preserve spoils (or even dares change colour!). Plus don’t forget the many varieties of wines, all of which require lemon. I’ll tell ya what, I can’t get enough of them lemons and look forward to the day when all of the trees are producing strongly. Go the lemon!
The author squeezes about 20 lemons to obtain enough juice to process the apricots in prior to the dehydrating process
So, I had to squeeze the juice from about 20 lemons this morning in order to get enough lemon juice, which you may recall is absolutely full of citric acid, for part of the dehydrating process. The apricot halves which I was about to dehydrate had to be immersed in that squeezed lemon juice for about 5 minutes as part of the dehydration process.

I also halved an additional two dehydrating trays full of cherries and they are also now in the dehydrator happily dehydrating away. What was interesting was that the instructions (which are from a local supplier) stated that the cherries did not have to be immersed in the lemon juice, and were OK to use as is. Perhaps you could assume from the instructions that the cherries have a high enough acid content? The fruit halves are then placed on the dehydrator trays and the lemon juice is bottled up in glass jars and chucked in the freezer for later use (hmmm, more lemon wine?).
The fruit on the tray just prior to being placed in the dehydrator and the lemon juice waiting to be bottled and frozen for later use
And after three and a half hours of cooking (the entire dehydrating process may take between 10 and 16 hours all up) the fruit looks like this:
The apricots and cherries after three and a half hours of dehydrating
I tasted one of the cherries after almost six hours of dehydrating and I can say that it tastes good – but the process still has a long way to go yet.

The bees have been enjoying the lazy hot summer afternoons and they are very active and making quite a lot of noise in amongst the flowers. The drone can be almost deafening by the afternoon.
Bee Cam ™ shows that the bees are particularly active on hot summer afternoons
The prize for enjoying lazy hot summer afternoons the most goes to… The tomatoes:
Tomato Cam ™ shows that the tomatoes have grown significantly over the past week
Poopy the Pomeranian (who by now, we all know is technically a Swedish Lapphund) wins the prize for enjoying lazy hot summer afternoons the least due to the sheer thickness of his double coat which is possibly more suited to Swedish summers than a down under heat wave. Fortunately for Poopy, he had a haircut in the past few days. The haircut had been booked in months ago and it was lucky for him that was the case as he would have struggled with the early heat wave even more than he did.
Poopy the Pomeranian sports a stylish new do
Poopy was a little devil to take a photo of this morning as he refused to sit still and co-operate for the camera. Now that Poopy is much cooler due to the recent haircut, he is far more active than previously, and in the end I simply kicked him outside into the early morning heat (it was about 25’C 77’F at 7.30am this morning) and took the photo through the glass door. That glass door by the way has 10mm (0.39 inch) toughened glass and he knows he has no chance whatsoever of getting back into the house unless he quietly sits down whilst I took that photo. Take that Poopy!

It may be hot and dry here, but compared to the surrounding country this mountain range is a paradise. There is a permanent source of safe and clean water for the many birds to drink and wash themselves in here. What this means is that every few days I’m spotting new bird species at the farm. Yesterday for only the second time that I can recall, I spotted a falcon attacking several galahs and so I had to carefully supervise the chickens whilst they were free ranging out in the orchard during that early evening. Even the King Parrot brought a friend up to visit the farm yesterday so now there are two of them.
A local rosella enjoying the safe and clean water that I maintain for all of the birds here to drink and bathe in
The local wildlife – whether it be marsupials or even foxes – get to enjoy the permanent water that I leave out for them too. A couple of nights back, the editor spotted three wombats and (this is no exaggeration) fifteen wallabies in the orchard below the house. I’m a little bit fearful for the safety of the fruit trees this summer season! I spotted this wallaby appreciating the many and varied (and also yummy!) flowers in the garden below the house yesterday.
A wallaby expresses appreciation for the many and varied flowers in the garden below the house
Last week whilst enjoying a coffee at the local café / general store / post office, I noticed that the road had been partially blocked off by a huge travel tower with two guys in the bucket. Driving away from the travel tower was the local electrical supplier van. That van is hard to miss because for some strange reason the company in question had decided to go with a bright pink colour scheme so the shops and van really stand out. Anyway, who knows what electrical mischief the guys in the travel tower were up to – and to be honest, I didn’t think about that mystery again. Then a couple of nights later, I was returning home along the freeway, all was dark, and I spotted a very bright light up on the mountainside – from more than 20km (12.5 miles) away. It may have been even further away. And I thought to myself, that’s a bright light up there, so two nights ago, I popped over to check out what was going on only to find this:
Christmas lights installed on a massive tree opposite the Mount Macedon pub
Honestly, that tree is so large that it is possibly on the heritage register for large and significant exotic trees! It is planted in the garden of the one-time Governor Generals summer retreat which is coincidentally opposite the local pub.

On the previous Thursday, the orchard had herbage which looked like this:
The herbage underneath the orchard looked quite green and lush only a few days ago
With the onset of the early heatwave, I made the tough decision (because of the fire risk) to chop and drop the entire herbage as mulch and continue the huge process of feeding 300 fruit trees with manure and so part of the orchard now looks like this:
After only a few days of a protracted heatwave, the orchard looks quite dry
A few regular commenters have requested details about the type and quantity of flowers here for the bees and I may produce a separate video on that subject over the next few weeks. In the meantime, the lambs tongues, various herbs and agapanthus have commenced flowering this week and will provide lots of bee food in the immediate future.
Lambs tongue, olive herb, thyme and agapanthus provide lots of food for the bees despite the heatwave this week
A small amount of rain is predicted for this evening and tomorrow, so I have continued planting out the many spare tomato seedlings and hopefully they will survive the summer and produce fruit?
Today, despite the heatwave I continued planting out tomato seedlings which may or may not produce fruit
And whilst I was planting out the tomato seedlings, this little fella was nosing around the soil:
An echidna was nosing about the soil whilst I was planting out the tomato seedlings in the heat of the afternoon today
The lazy hot summer afternoons are ripening the fruit here and despite the birds best efforts at a free and easy feed, there is still plenty of fruit on the trees:
Jonathon apples are ripening in the warm conditions
Cherries are also continuing to ripen in the warm conditions
Mulberries are a delicious fruit that you will probably never see for sale. Yum!
The jostaberries are one full month early this year
The temperature outside today reached over 33’C (91.4’F) but the temperature has turned cooler now with a possible storm approaching and at about 6.45pm has fallen to 21.1’C degrees Celsius (70’F). So far this year there has been 694.0mm (27.3 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total 689.4mm (27.1 inches).

86 comments:

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Thanks for your potato growing experience and was wondering whether you have ever tried growing them in the same soil previously from year to year? The reason I ask is because they do that on farms to the west of here and I'd read accounts such as yours and have been wondering about it ever since. The locals here tell me that they replant their own potatoes, but also the potato seed which follows on from the flowers gets replanted as well. I let those seeds drop into the soil here, but haven't been watching closely enough to know what happens.

Yes, the potatoes in raised beds did not grow nearly as well as those in the ground and I have been wondering whether it had something to do with overly warm soil in summer. What did you think may have caused the difference? Certainly millipedes seem to have gotten into those raised beds here...

It is very effective for migraines. I've read that the plant - which is a total weed down here - has high levels of anti-inflammatory chemicals in it. It is good for digestive problems, but then so is mint.

Oh yeah, the birds here are very exotic looking. I spotted a brown honey-eater today zipping through the garden beds eating all sorts of pests and they really love the nectar in the salvia's of which I plant more and more each year. They earn their keep those birds.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

That is really good news as a decent snow pack refills your aquifers and creeks and rivers. Dunno about snowboarding though and all respect to Chef John for having a knack for it. Honestly skateboards were beyond my capabilities when I was younger so I reckon a snowboard would be well beyond my abilities.

Well, you know high winds can be a bit of a hassle when one lives near a forest. The bigger the tree, the harder they fall - I was once told by an old timer. 48'F is a very nice temperature where you can easily warm yourself in front of the wood heater.

Putting the tea on early. I hear you, although I do the same with coffee. Must have a coffee before communication with other people as the world is not in focus early on! Sorry to hear about the sudden down pour and you getting drenched. That's tough on a cold morning. Yeah, I have to do the chickens clean up in the morning too, and over winter when the wind is blowing and it is just above freezing, cleaning their water out becomes an exercise in trying to avoid the inevitable frozen fingers.

Oh yeah, the chickens make a sort of a burring noise when there is a predator bird around and they'll all suddenly lift themselves to their highest stance and watch to see what is going on. How they know that there is an eagle about when I can't even spot it, is beyond me, but they really do know way in advance of me spotting it. I just sort of listen to their "talk" when I'm out keeping an eye on them as they are rarely wrong. If I had a rooster they may be even more communicative, but I don't really know.

No spoilers please! The editor is about two thirds of the way through the book. It is sad that such things happen. I've always tried to be firm but fair with staff, but I'm never sure whether the management above me appreciated that effort - they usually seem to want more and more as time went on - that seemed to be the constant to me anyway. Actually, I go the distinct impression that despite previous heroic efforts on my part, I was only ever as good as the most recent episode. The short term thinking used was so far outside my understanding that it annoyed me.

That happens down here too. Apparently there are now more nurses and journalists being trained than there are actually positions available in the entire country. And I recently read an article by a seasoned journalist who was dying of lung cancer (and have never previously smoked - which is a truly awful thing because everyone thinks the absolute worst) that you need a PhD and you have to do various unpaid internships just to get an internship nowadays in a newspaper. Go figure that one out - but someone in the education industry is making heaps of mad cash on the back of that one. Incidentally, I read in the newspaper on the weekend that the first educational institute (The Pheonix Institute - of all names, like people don't you know your history?) went under because of the alteration of government funding...

Exactly, it takes massive experience which trumps education many times. I worked my way up the corporate ladder from accounts clerk doing all sorts of low level jobs right up to the very top of my profession and I can talk to everyone below that position and understand their issues and problems. People who seek status via education are deluding themselves. I have come across so many people who were cannon fodder for the big audit firms who worked huge hours (honestly it seemed like slave labour to me) for not much money on the promise of high status experience and they reckon they knew more about their clients business and accounts than the clients actually did. When I got them as graduates, they all went through the five stages of grief (which we spoke about last week), but it was the anger phase that was the hardest to work through, because they knew they'd been had. A lot of my work was in healing on a serious note, but it gained a loyalty which was also important.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

That book sounds massive and comprehensive. And respect for the author for pondering the hard questions too, but the question I was wondering was: Is it really described as simply as possible. Unfortunately for me when I think of science and food, I get images of Heston Blumenthal coming to mind and all of the crazy stuff that he does with food. Look, all respect to him, but I'm uncomfortable handling liquid nitrogen at the best of times let alone in a kitchen and whilst novelty can be interesting, the question always pops into my head: Does it taste any good? Anyway, I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts on this important matter and the book. :-)!

It is difficult to get basic instructions in a cook book as many of them introduce complex techniques and assume that you know what the author is writing about! I hope that you enjoy the Stephanie Alexander book - it is also a massive doorstop. You are a much faster reader than I!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

Mate that is an awesome looking starter culture. Did you use just flour and water or did you add a yeast to it as well? It certainly is bubbling. The link to the photo is here: Damo's sourdough bread starter image.

Out of interest as I've never used one of those cultures, how long until you can bake with it and are you having to feed and water it most days? Top stuff!

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

It was good to see such stoicism in the hammock!

I believe that lemons fruit all the year round in Australia. Is that correct, or only in certain areas? I certainly use them to aid the setting of jam when using low pectin fruit. Juice and zest in lemon cakes also.

Just jumped as a bird hit the window. I have restarted feeding the squirrels. This is the time of year when they appear in hope. The birds are there immediately but need to learn about windows. For the first few days, it was bang, bang, bang.

I was told not to plant potatoes in the same soil each year but to leave it clear for 2 years. I suspect that this is old info. and that it now depends on variety. Some varieties seem to be impervious to blight. Have always tried to avoid using the same soil but inevitably some potatoes get left behind. This has taught me which varieties can cope and which kind have their greenery turn black.

I am interested that you let your potatoes flower (the resulting fruit is poisonous). I was taught to pick the flowers off and told that the potatoes would be larger/better. Have you tried picking off or leaving to see if there is a difference?

@Pam

I look forward to your humour, it has been great to see it expand.

Inge

Damo said...

Hi Chris and others,
The sourdough was made with equal parts flour and water stirred daily for a week or so (longer= more sour!). Every other day I would add a little more flour, sometimes sugar.

I made some loaves today with it and they turned out pretty good. My attempts at baguettes fell flat though :-( might need to be a stiffer dough so they keep their shape?

I am noticing a strong theme of 90's triple j type music in your choice of titles!

In other news, based on a comment from ADR a couple of weeks ago, I read a new science fiction novel, Aurora. Highly recommended for any lapsed Sci fi fans (it has spaceships and AI, but also deals with resource limits and personal responses to said limits). Years ago the author wrote what many considered as a type of blueprint for terraforming mars(red mars, green mars, blue mars). Yet by the end of this new novel I thought the author might almost be an ADR reader!
I found the change interesting since it somewhat mirrors my change in outlook, also, it was just a good story. Now I am reading ' start with the soil', a very different book :-)

What are your plans when you start having 300 trees fruiting all within a few months? Boutique wine and cider seller perhaps?

In bad news, one of our chooks went broody again today for the second time this season. When we pulled her from the nest, she started squawking and flapping and the other two chooks ran over. What nice chooks I thought, they are coming to help their sister in arms. But nope, they came to help me and pecked at the broody one! Pretty funny I thought.

Damo

Lain said...

Hi Chris, In your comment to Pam you said :

"It is very effective for migraines. I've read that the plant - which is a total weed down here - has high levels of anti-inflammatory chemicals in it. It is good for digestive problems, but then so is mint."

Which plant are you speaking of?

Thanks Lain.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - That's quit a job of preserving. When I was doing my apples, I just through them in salt water, so they wouldn't discolor. Cheaper than lemons, here. But if you're up to you ankles in lemons, why not? I'd also use a solar dehydrator, due to the cost of power. But, since you've got solar to burn, so to speak, again, why not?

Poopy looks so smart with his haircut. And, I think he knows it!

So, are you going to stream the bee cam (TM) online? :-). There's a Mt. St. Helen's cam. You can see the inside of the crater.

You may think the wallaby is enjoying the flowers, but I think that's just a ploy. I think he's really planning to storm the stockade.

I'm not a morning person, either. Nell and the chickens are lucky if they get a grudging "Good Morning." :-).

Yeah, you put your heart and soul into a job and either get laid off, or, the job becomes so miserable that you bail out. I wish I had a nickel for every hour of unpaid work I have done. Just to do a job well or make life easier for my co-workers. Yes, we have all kinds of "technical schools" and "colleges", on line and off. And they're ever so helpful in getting the student government loans. That can't be written off, anymore, even in bankruptcy.

Well, the weather is going to get "interesting", here. We're under a flood watch. To quote Cliff Mass, "...several wet systems including a potent atmospheric river." Are there impotent atmospheric rivers? :-). It's been raining, steady, for about the last 24 hours. But, Tuesday, the Hawaiian fire hose is going to be turned on and run for about a day. Also, the freezing level is going way up, so a lot of that snow in the mountains is going to melt off.

The cookbook is shaping up to be quit good. It's not about cooking with nitrogen and foams and such. It's pretty much down to earth recipes. But, he's looking at the "received wisdom" of a lot of aspects of cooking and is testing it out, using the scientific method. Guarding against bias, blind tests, control groups, etc.. "...focuses on the science behind beloved American dishes, delving into the interactions between heat, energy, and molecules that create great food. Kenji shows that, often, conventional methods don't work that well, and home cooks can achieve far better results using new - but simple techniques."

OK. No more spoilers on "Cooking Dirty". But I did see a couple of observations in an interview with Sheehan... so, it's not from the book. That a lot of the attraction of "cooking on the line" is the "lure of immaturity." That the attitude is "welcome to my pirate ship!" And some stuff about Peter Pan. :-). And, I discovered the Pogue's "South Australia." Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Pam - Yup. I plan to rope in the tree. And, I'm going to pile a barrier of holly around the base. That might keep Nell off the tree. Maybe. I was worried about bringing bugs in, with the holly. And, I suddenly remembered that if I spray it all down with a good liquid soap, that problem should be taken care of.


PS: To Chris - I also discovered on Amazon, that Sheehan has written two other books ... a traditional space opera and a post apocalyptic American, rip snorter. Who knew? Lew

SLClaire said...

I'm surprised none of the previous comments referenced Sir Scruffy sticking to your shoes (check again your sentence about the burrs and you'll realize it can be read that way).

I sit in a recliner like you sit in the hammock, only at this time of year it's with a lot more layers of clothes on and a book in my lap instead of a computer.

It's supposed to be winter here but the weather hasn't gotten the message. Might see a high near 68F/20C by Friday, 20F or more higher than normal. Even today, with cloud cover, the high is 50F or so. I'll be doing winter pruning this week.

Allan Stromfeldt Christensen said...

Hey Chris,

Nice work with the dehydrator. I had one of those myself back in my uni days, and while I of course dehydrated banana slices, I also made a serious amount of (marinated) beef jerky. Awesome stuff it was. More recently I picked up a copy of Eben Fodor's book The Solar Food Dryer, which is about making your own, solar powered dehydrator. There's an okay boxey type that he describes in the book and gives plans for, but the one that I'd really like to make one day, which he also mentions and gives reference to in the Further Reading section, is the Appalachian Solar Food Dryer. Links for the PDFs mentioned in Fodor's book are as follows:

The Design, Construction, and Use of an Indirect, Through-Pass, Solar Food Dryer

Improving Solar Food Dryers

Cheers,

Allan

p.s. Citric acid, eh? Did you know that whenever you see citric acid (also known as Food Acid #330, Preservative #330, Acidity Regulator #330, etc.) in the ingredients list on packaged food, that said acid doesn't actually come from lemons or any kind of citrus fruit? On the chance you didn't know, it comes from corn. Sucky for me, seeing how I gave up eating corn nearly 10 years ago (it's my way of trying to stay away from industrial food), which means I can't eat the vast majority of food found in grocery stores (no citric acid, maltodextrin, xanthan gum, corn starch/flour, etc.). I'd say 95% of jams found in stores are made with citric acid. It's the odd jar of jam whose ingredients list has it as being made with -- lo and behold -- lemon juice! (Which you of course have to pay a pretty penny for.)

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Just before I forget, I spotted this article about the rain shortage to the SW of here: Water carrier flooded with calls from rural families in south-west Victoria as supplies run dry.

Water is a funny thing down under and after making a huge error two years ago and almost running out, I'm now very careful with it...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Thanks for your support, no, it really is tough and the hammock is a genuine hardship, but I will endure you know! Hehe! On a serious note, the very hot afternoons were starting to make me feel very sleepy and today it was 35'C and I had to really concentrate at that temperature - as it was in a warehouse - and by the end of the working day I was feeling very tired. It is nice to be back in the cool mountains where the breeze is blowing gently and the sun doesn't quite knock you out - if you are in the shade of course!

I'm unsure about the rest of Australia, but here I have ripe lemon fruit all year around. You may be interested to note that I will be planting even more citrus trees next March or April - depending on the weather conditions, they're one of the main fruit crops here and the only one (other than rhubarb) which produces solidly in the depths of winter. A lot of the old lemon trees are cut down by developers and in the shops - or even at the market - they are a very expensive fruit. The trees in Melbourne are also seriously under fed and so they suffer from citrus gall wasp. I suspect that in the far past the trees used to tap into the old clay sewer pipes for feed and water which was why they were so massive and productive.

The birds do that here too unfortunately, but they do learn to avoid the house windows. Some of the birds use the glass as a mirror with which to admire themselves. It is nice that you feed the squirrels as our wildlife needs all of the help it can get. I was talking with some locals who said their wombats had mange, and I couldn't tell them that the wombats have mange, because your fences force the wombats to eat from the forest rather than the wonderful gardens that you have created. It is hard to learn to keep ones opinions to oneself!

Yeah, I definitely believe that it depends on variety. It was very unfortunate that the Irish only chose to grow two of the thousands of species of potatoes and both of those two were susceptible to blight. Down here they grow potatoes in the same soil year in year out and I've been watching them from afar to see their processes.

I didn't know that - and haven't eaten the potatoes either. An old timer told me that they allow some of their crop to go back into the ground and also some of the seeds to sprout - but I can't confirm this for sure. My understanding was that green potatoes are those that are exposed to the sun when growing and those are poisonous and I always rebury them when I find them. I'd appreciate your input on that issue?

Next year an area which has yet to be developed will be set aside for growing potatoes, so I can run the experiment then and we can discuss the outcomes.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

Thank you for sharing your sourdough starter secrets. That was my understanding too, but I was unsure about the starter getting more sour as time went on. The thing I was wondering was did you add any yeast to the mix? You may inadvertently discover a new sour dough sensation – the Zeehan sour dough loaf? You never know what sort of yeasts are in your area until someone tries them out. The sugar is a good way to give the yeast a bit of a feed and I do the same thing here when making the country wines.

Nice to see that you are experimenting with bread. Top work! The bread ladies who supply me with flour and other baking stuff told me that the type of flour that you use can make a difference too to a loaf holding its shape and that is why I use the Pasta Dura flour. It would be interesting to try some of that flour with your baguette recipe and see if there is a difference? The focaccia’s here hold their shape quite well which is why I mention that.

Busted! Yeah, that one earns you today’s elephant stamp – and you probably picked up on last week’s title as well! Nice work. Beck has been around so long that he was part of the Weird Al Yankovich’s classic 90’s tune: Alternative Polka. It is good stuff. He is like the dark horse of the music industry and just recently he released another top track: Dreams. Very good stuff. Beck even managed the difficult feat of teaching graciousness to the irascible Kanye West and that is no small feat. Alright, I’m a bit of self-confessed music nerd!

Yeah, I noticed that but hadn’t realised it was Kim Stanley Robinson. How good was the red, blue and green Mars trilogy? Well, I enjoyed it anyway… Thanks for the tip off and I’ll add it to the must read list (which is still bogged down in Conan land and I copped a bit of flack for that this morning at the café I go to regularly. I started getting a bit defensive going: It’s a 1,000+ pages… Not cool, but oh well it was hot)

OK who wrote: “start with the soil?”

Pah! The wildlife takes a huge share of the fruit, so that probably will never be a problem. It is a slow process and I get a little bit more each year so I haven’t noticed too many surpluses yet. I reckon surpluses are a hard school. Mostly I give away fruit and other produce to clients and friends and so most people have a big smile when I turn up to places – they love it.

Haha! The broody chook was taught her place by the other chooks. That is what happens here too. The boss chook and enforcer have never gone broody, but do they enforce their opinions or what. I don’t worry too much about it all now and just let them sort themselves out (three weeks is about what a broody chook will do).

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lain,

Welcome to the discussion.

Sorry, given this is your first ever comment and you’ve touched on a difficult subject which for some reason people get really funny about, I’ll have to give you a disclaimer:

You have to do your own research into this subject and I am not offering medical advice and you take full responsibility for any problems that you - or others on your advice - may have with the plant referred to below

The plant that I am referring to is: Chrysanthenmum parthenium

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Hehe! The solar dehydrator maybe a good option because yesterday I managed to use more electrical energy than any other previous day for well over a decade – even when I was connected to the grid – so I’m thinking long and hard about how to best use that dehydrator so that it makes the most of the electrical energy that I have available. You may laugh, but I used almost 15kWh over 24 hours – most of which was put back into the batteries today, but still, a simple solar dehydrator might work a whole lot better than this fancy electrical option. Dunno. Like everything, the editor and I discussed how it worked in reality and how we could have done things differently to take advantage of the free energy that we do have.

You are quite correct. Poopy is very vain and so he teases the other dogs by prancing around and generally being a bit of a showbag (looks good on the outside but is full of .... inside)! Hehe! Actually, he is a really nice dog, but for some reason Toothy has it in for him...

Thanks for the St Helens cam link. Nice one. I doubt it very much, the bees would be totally annoyed by the incessant light on the inside of their hive - and you may enjoy the bee cam, but I have to deal with angry bees - and that is no small matter. I once had a colony that used to attack me at about 20m (60ft) away and I'll tell ya what, was I happy when that lot accidentally died... That was a free colony too and it was the gift that kept on giving! :-)!

Oh yeah. Battle stations, all hands prepare for impact. I can almost hear Kirk in the background yelling: Shields full! I reckon the best Star Trek moment was when Praxis blew up in Star Trek 6 - a good movie.

Who needs to be perky in the morning - there is something mildly wrong about early morning people. Hehe! Sir Scruffy is a morning dog and he is way too enthusiastic for my poor brain at that time of the morning...

The student loan thing down here is a massive scam. I know people in their mid twenties who have loans of around $60k and whilst there is no urgency to pay them off, I still don't know how the individuals can financially recover from that burden at such a young age. It makes me sad. Well, we're both cynics on that subject - I always try to do my best - within reason - and it annoys me when I've done my best and employers want more. Actually my experience with volunteering wasn't much different and I was wondering whether there was something hardwired into people about that one, but it was even worse at the top end of town. Dunno?

Hey! By the way did you note that Joel had a new post up? My email system accidentally junked the notification... Ooops!

I doubt that there are impotent atmospheric rivers as that sounds rough and very damp! I hope Chef John is not too upset with the reduction of the snow pack? Please send some rain here - if you get the chance? 1/6th of an inch this morning which was nice but it barely damped down the ground. Still, people are doing it worse than here.

Oh, that is good too hear because the whole nitrogen and foam thing seems a bit artificial to me. I know some people that went to the fat duck restaurant as he set up a pop up shop in Melbourne, but still it seems a bit rich to spend six months of food bills on just one evenings dinner. My culinary aims are not so high! Anyway, it is not for the likes of a person in my social station.

Do you have a link to the interview with Sheehan? That certainly sounds interesting and I hope that you will provide a review? Well, look, lets be totally honest, your library system is pretty good? ;-)!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

Thanks for the correction. Ah, the English language can be a complex beast! Sir Scruffy does literally stick to my shoes, because when we get to go and feed the chickens in the morning he starts nipping me he gets that excited.

That is an excellent idea, and please keep your winters to your area! The heating here is entirely by firewood which is sourced from the forest here so I've been appreciating your blog, but am unsure how much I can add given that I have a different climate. Insulation works equally well over the summer too.

Honestly, that is quite warm even for my early winter. Yes, the climate is shifting into the warmer for everyone. I've noted that the Arctic has been increasingly losing its ice surface which will heat the Northern hemisphere up even more and more energy into the weather systems creates much greater instability and extremes (cold as well as hot). It is not good.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Alan,

Thanks man and great to hear of your experience with your dehydrator back in your Uni days. Out of interest, how long did you dehydrate your beef strips for (and I imagine that you kept the slices thin?). I feed the dogs beef jerky and it is expensive stuff so you may be onto something. Also out of interest, did you ever stop and start the process as I was wondering whether I could run the dehydrator only when the sun is up and shining. It makes little sense killing the batteries to dry some apricots.

Thanks for the link, I'll check that out over the next few days. I guess a solar dehydrator would take a couple of days to process foodstuffs? For your interest, they use similar looking solar heaters on houses down here and I believe Angus who is a semi-regular commenter here built one of them from scrap (check out the links to other blogs for Guesstimated Approximations). The fans can be powered by small PV panels which only blow hot air when the sun is shining.

No, I had no idea, but avoid a lot of processed food. Mate, that sounds like the make up of a chemistry laboratory! No way! Not good, corn gets used for so many products in the US that it is a bit frightening. I rarely eat corn either as it is hard to grow here, because it is such a heavy feeder and strip mines the soils of nutrients - little wonder that it is a chemists warehouse! Lemons are expensive to buy here, but we have the almost perfect climate for citrus. It is a shame a lot of the old lemon trees are removed by home owners. A neighbour once told me that she didn't like the fruit bats messing up her nice paving and she took down a hugely old and productive apricot tree - I used to steal the fruit from it when she wasn't around because it usually went to waste...

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I didn't mean that the potatoes were poisonous. I am aware of the green ones and either re-plant or cut off the green bits if it isn't too bad. I meant the green fruit that the flowers turn into.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Well, the Pineapple Express is gearing up. It was a steady 54F (12.22C) all night, and the last time I checked the temp it was 60F (15.56C). I took one of the blankets off the bed, last night. Lots of rain. We have a high wind warning for today, into the afternoon. The Cowlitz River is on flood warning. I'd thought about running a pipe from here, to Australia. We certainly have the water to spare ... now. :-)

I'll hold off on sending you the Sheehan interview, til you've read the book. Too many spoilers :-). Our library doesn't have the other to Sheehan sci-fi books. I might try and get the apocalyptic one on interlibrary loan. If my hold list ever gets sorted out enough that I have a couple of extra slots to spare :-).

Will run right over and check out Joel's new post.

Ooooo! Ooooo! My blue Christmas bubble lights, arrived yesterday. They weren't broken in shipment and all worked. Now, if the phony Christmas tree would just arrive :-). Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Damo - I had a broody hen, all darn summer long. Even though I tossed her out of the hen house, at least twice a day. And, yes, the other hens chased her around and pecked at her. My theory was, they were brassed off because she was taking up valuable real estate. :-). She got quit fat and I took to calling her "Thanksgiving." Not long after that, she rejoined the flock and I don't know anymore which hen was the broody one.

But seriously ... I got my issue of "Countryside and Small Stock Journal", yesterday. There was an article on broody hens. The author said he had good luck with entirely removing the offending hen from the hen house, for three or four days. Just set her up with her own food and water, somewhere else. Worth a try, and that is what I'll do, next time one of my hens goes broody. Lew

Allan Stromfeldt Christensen said...

Hmmm... If memory serves me correct, the beef strips took several days. To take a wild guess I'd say three or four, but I could be off either way. Electricity was "free" in those days so I just let it go as long as it had to, although I wasn't a complete numbskull and so maxed it out with all five trays at a time (which I suppose made it all take longer). If you do plan on making jerky for yourself and not just the dogs then you also have to slice it (yes thinly, although it does shrink of course) the proper way. Against the grain, with the grain, I forget. Basically, the way so that it's chewable for us humans (as opposed to simply being inhalable by dogs).

No, I never have stopped the dehydrator, partially because the electricity bill was inclusive in the student co-op rent. Regardless, and I presume my guess is as good as yours, I figure the only issue is whether stuff will start to rot, right? I think I do remember seeing some models where you could control the heat (even turn it off?), and maybe just the fan would be enough to keep rot away?

From what I've read (and remember), solar dehydrating can be either quicker or slower. If you're in a humid locale, longer. If you're in a hot and dry place, quicker. As well, Eben Fodor's book listed a few graphs for the ideal angle to build the glass structure in regards to ones latitude so that one could maximize the amount of sun the contraption caught.

Yeah, I've seen similar looking glass enclosures to heat homes here in New Zealand as well. Every little bit helps.

Another corn ingredient I forgot is, of course, HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup). A lot less corn gets used in Australia (and New Zealand) than Canada and the US, partially because, as you mentioned, it isn't grown as much here. I forget which other "ose" it is (glucose?), but I've noticed that in Australia and NZ, rather than simply state "Glucose" in the ingredients list, they've increasingly started to list it as "Glucose (from wheat)" (since it can be derived from any grain). Bastards are catching on to me.

Cheers,

Allan

Damo said...

The book is ' start with the soil ' by grace gershuny. It is out of print now but I got a good used copy for about $15. Seems pretty good so far, but as I know nothing about soil, I am an easy mark!

Yeah, I quite liked the mars trilogy. Nowadays I have a different outlook on the viability of the whole enterprise of course, but they were still good stories. Interestingly, the author himself realised it was not really possible, even with his self replicating factories, ai and cheap fusion (a fourth book described the regression of Mars back to less hospitable conditions). Since we are not likely to get any of those technologies let alone all three, maybe we should look after this planet a bit better....

I still love Sci fi though, I just moved it from ' possible future' category into the same section as fantasy and dragons!

You are correct, star trek vi is possibly the best trek movie. The less said about star trek into darkness, the better. Although, I entertain the minor possibility that the next one might be ok (co-written by Simon pegg).

Re: Sourdough, I didn't add any yeast, that would be cheating:p

If you are a music tragic, at least it is for the right type of music. In my home town we didn't get triple j till I was 16, so I was a little starved in my early days. Luckily the late 90's was a great time on the jjj and I soon caught up! I also don't mind the new digital only station, double j.

Better head off, first day back at work and that tin doesn't get itself out of the ground!

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

We don't have to even read this post to guess which devil got the haircut! Poor Poopy! What about his dignity? Discomfort trumps dignity. He looks like a mad baby.

Summer may be there, but winter is not here. I kind of wish we had bidgee widgee burrs here just so I could go around saying "Bidgee widgee. Bidgee widgee."

I like your lemon squeezer. That's a lot of lemons! Wonderful fruit; I use a squirt in a lot of things. Lucky you to live in a lemony place. If we get a decent crop of apricots from our lone apricot tree next year, I am going to try soaking them in lemon juice before drying. How did you pit all those cherries?

I wonder why so many of your birds are colorful and ours are mostly not? Fifteen wallabies is pretty scary. I think you have the makings of a horror movie there. You guys are skilled at making videos - go to it!

That is some Christmas tree! Shall we assume that the pub was in place in the day of the Governor Generals' summer retreat? No wonder he retreated.

I like your hat Chris. It goes especially well with your shorts.

We have wild mulberry trees, at least we do where we have protected them from the deer. In that case, maybe they are no longer wild? They are so delicious and, you are right - I have never seen mulberry fruit for sale anywhere.

I went out the back door this morning to empty the trash, and there was a black bear! As soon as he saw me he ran like heck. I didn't look that frightening . . . He's been eating out of our compost bin. It's in a convenient spot at the end of the porch where each day for a week we deposit the kitchen scraps before dumping the bin into the fenced garden and starting with a clean bin. It's been way too warm for him to hibernate yet.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Inge:

Thank you. You are very kind!

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Claire:

Boy, I'm glad you mentioned pruning! I don't know what to do, I'm pretty clueless about pruning anyway, read what I might, and with all this warm weather and the fact that certain things like all of the different apple trees still have some very green leaves on them, I just don't know when to start. I guess I'll wait until well into January to see if the warmer weather continues. Which plants are "winter pruned"?

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Allan:

Egads - citric acid is not citrus? How am I going to find non-corn citric acid? I'm super-careful about corn. Only organic corn and nothing that might remotely be HFCS. I cook most things at home anyway.

How did you ever dry bananas? I tried once in the dehydrator for 24 (!) hours and they were still icky.

Pam

Damo said...

@Lew

Yeah, we used a small cage a few months ago to stop the voices in the chooks head, but they are now back! She is in her prison again and will be released on parole in a day or two.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Thanks, that's what I thought you meant about the small green fruit that turns into another potato plant. The green fruit itself is poisonous - as are the leaves (and most likely the flowers too) of that plant. My understanding was that the people down here replanted the small green fruits, but I could be wrong about that and will ask around over the next few months. I'm assuming that you are only referring to the small green fruit and not the tubers that will eventually grow from that seed?

Have all of the leaves finally dropped from your trees? Has anyone planted evergreen species in or near to your forest?

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Yes, just the small green fruit.

The trees are nearly bare, but not quite. There are plenty of leaves on the hazel bushes still. There is an occasional yew tree, they have self seeded from an old one nearby. Quite a lot of holly and some laurel. I think that's it re. evergreens. Oh apart from some holm oaks on the shore line.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I shouldn't laugh, but did you know that "The Pineapple Express" was the title of a very dodgy film a few years back - which ended up in a Mexican shootout. Apologies, that I spoiled the ending of the film but I weighed up the risk and decided that it would be very unlikely that you have ever seen the film - or are likely to in the future. But then again...

Wow, that would be a very warm (actually let's call it as it is: hot) winters day down here. That is some big storm heading your way to bring temperatures like that. Stay safe (and hopefully dry too). That pipe would be really handy about now... Has anyone ever proposed the idea of piping water from your area down into the southern states? I imagine the geology in between would make the whole proposal uneconomic? At the end of WWII, the US army engineers were suggesting to build a massive canal from the ocean up through South Australia and presumably into the desert - a lot of which is a couple of metres below sea level. They thought big back then! Action was another thing altogether.

Thanks! No spoilers please. You're a much faster reader than I so I reckon there'll be some slots opening up sooner or later. :-)!

I do hope that you enjoy Joel's latest writings - I always enjoyed his work, but will pop over on the weekend when things are a bit quieter. I worked quite late this evening. Fortunately, I brought a muffin back home which was enjoyed all around.

Are these blue LED's? They've only been recently available you know? I hope it looks good and also that Nell doesn't use them as toys... It is funny when you start expecting brand new things not to work first time. A friend has a christmas tree which is plugged into the wall socket as it is the whole thing in one neat package! That's progress for you! :-)! Hehe!

Did I mention before that Rumpole the boss chicken has been ill since before the new enclosure. Well she has been stoically hanging on for about five months now and I noticed tonight that one of the Silky chickens was sitting with her and that is always a sign that the end is nigh. Rumpole may yet have to receive the coup de grace soon. The silky chickens are always onto these things - it is mildly uncanny but they are very accurate.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Alan,

Your memory sounds about spot on as you sparked my interest and I went and checked out the instructions. I'm not sure I have the available electrical to run the dehydrator for a couple of days in a row - more on this on next weeks blog though.

Maxxing out your trays is a top idea and I bet your beef jerky ending up tasting really nice. Did you add any spices or marinades to the beef prior to chucking it in the dehydrator? I imagine cracked pepper would taste quite good?

Nice to read that they have those solar roof top heaters in NZ - you don't see them much down here, but they are around.

Yeah, high fructose corn syrup isn't seen much here - we just don't have the soil fertility for huge crops of corn. Sugar on the other hand is grown up north in Queensland and it is a big crop. It is too cold for sugar down here, but that is part of the rationale behind the bees and why I keep experimenting with them. The old timers in Europe used to grow sugar beets - but even those were only 20% sugar by weight. Food labeling is a total mystery to me.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

Well, you are ahead of the pack - because not many other people know about soil either. It is remarkable how ignorant our science is on that subject. All I know is that I have to keep feeding the soil either compost (if the plant prefers basic / bacterial dominated soils), mulch (if the plant prefers acidic / fungi dominated soils - eg. plants with a forest origin) or a mix of the two if it is a forest edge plant like tomatoes. And then when you are finished feeding, add some more! And that is about the sum of my knowledge, so if you get some good insights, please don't hesitate sharing them. Oh yeah, don't dig the soil too much.

Yeah, it was a good story, I enjoyed it too. Pity about the lack of a magnetic pole and all that hard radiation. There are some crazies that are planning some sort of travel plan to Mars which sounds very strange to me. I've heard them on the radio from time to time.

Lewis will be very stoked to hear that Simon Pegg is writing the next Star Trek film (this rings a bell and he may already be aware of that). Simon Pegg steals every scene that he is in in those films!

Some people have those cultures running continually for over three generations.

I do like the J Files and the last one I listened too was on TISM with John Saffran. Greg you missed the stop sign! I've seen them quite a few times live often with the Hoo Doo Gurus and they were always a lot of fun and it was a serious mosh pit.

You were lucky to have had access to triple j - it is one of the best uses of our tax dollar. I got onto it in 1992...

Cheers

Chris

Damo said...

RE: Triple J - I noticed they just released a new compilation album:
https://shop.abc.net.au/products/triple-j-40-years-of-music-4cd
I have not purchased a CD...(thinks about this)... I actually don't know when I bought a CD last...but am thinking about this one. I don't have a CD player so would need to immediately rip it to mp3 - such is life these days. ( it is on itunes, might as well be on Mars).

Who is this Joel character? I am always on the look for interesting new blogs..

I think triple J came to Dorrigo (mid-north coast NSW) in 95 or 96? Only radio station I listen to since (although I must be getting old as occasionally radio national comes on now...)

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

I'm getting shades of Monty Python: He's a very naughty boy! Poopy loves the attention and the car trip. Poopy being a dog at the lower end of the pecking order has no dignity to speak of, although he carries himself as a true aristocrat which is why the other dogs try and bring him back down to Earth! Don't laugh, he scares some of the delivery people as he can occasionally impersonate the rabid fictional dog: Cujo!

It is a great name for a nuisance burr and the ground covers are as tough as. But then I do have to pick them out of Sir Scruffy's coat.

Oh yeah, that lemon squeezer was a tip off from a foodie mate and it is the BIZ. Very heavy duty. They are a wonderful fruit and I enjoy them here all year around. You never know about citrus's range in the US as with a bit of global warming. The old timers used to swear that it was impossible to grow citrus in this mountain range until recently, so you never know about your part of the world.

I pitted the cherries with a knife. Cut in half and then removed the pip with my fingernail. I fed the pips to the chickens.

It is weird isn't it and they are that colourful all the way down to the bottom of the island of Tasmania. Up north they are even more colourful. I don't know why at all?

Noooooo! I'm not sure the orchard can stand the browsing pressure...

Yeah, I was wondering that too and will check out the earlier pub in the history book and see whether there are any frames I can put into next weeks blog.

Thank you - although I suspect you are taking the mickey! I love that hat - it is locally made and you can't pass up on a Fidora and John Lennon sunglasses for true style! Hehe!

Hey, do you pick the fruit from the mulberry trees and are the trees seedlings or deliberately planted?

Oh my, aren't black bears the killers? That is a shock that I wouldn't want to experience - like finding the second deadliest snake in the world snuggled up on the veranda just outside the door! Not good. I assume that it has not returned?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Just forgot to mention: Did you see the super nifty lemon squeezer in the photo? That kitchen tool is amazing and is the quickest way that I've found to squeeze citrus.

Plus, also forgot to mention that I had to wear a wool jumper outside tonight with the chickens... Brrr... Hope the storm wasn't too intense up your way and that the chickens stay nice and dry?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Thanks for explaining that about the green fruit as that was my understanding too. I suspect that the resulting tubers aren't that genetically different from the originating plant because the level of available diversity is not as great these days. The same thing is true for fruit trees grown from seedlings too nowadays - especially seed taken from vast mono-cultures of fruit trees...

Thanks for sharing your beautiful fores. Yeah, the holly and laurels are evergreen down here and they both have very shiny waxy leaves to stave off frost damage down here. They both look very nice. You may be interested to note that some of the younger hazel shrubs here are suffering a bit in the dry and the outer leaves look a bit crispy...

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lewis:

Ahhh! Lewis! Thanksgiving chook!

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Inge and Chris:

I never get any potato seeds or fruits. In fact, often they do not flower at all before the foliage dies off and I have to dig them up. That seems very peculiar, as most of them used to flower. And yet, last summer was quite mild, so I don't think it was heat. Oh, well, they're still tasty.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I'm sorry to hear about Rumpole; she is such a character. Nice that she has someone to hold her claw.

Oh, yeah! Kind of a midget Cujo! That's why I thought he looked mad (crazy)!

I shall hope for lemon trees to grow here someday. Which reminds me once again that I have NOT brought in the compost pile avacado tree who has gone through several frosts. At least I can't be charged with babying it as my son did when I was too attentive to the needs of the potted mango when it lived mostly outside: "You're raising that mango to be a sissy", he accused. Boy, I've practically neglected the thing ever since.

I don't believe you had on "John Lennon's sunglasses" in the photo? I think of him, and miss him, every December 8; easy to remember as it's my dad's birthday as well.

You bet I pick the mulberry fruit! The trees have planted themselves (they enjoy that, with the birds' help!), except for one which we moved to a new spot as it was blocking the sun from some other fruits.

I have never heard of a black bear attacking anyone around here, even in our whole region. They are quite shy, and love bagels.

A wool jumper in the summer?!

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

Hey, it's Christmas movie-watching time. I watched "Elf" with Will Ferrell and am bouncing off the walls with Christmas cheer! And a craving for maple syrup.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Yes, I am aware of the movie "Pineapple Express" :-). Think I may have even watched it. It was about that time that weather reports began to switch from Pineapple Express to Atmospheric River. Coincidence? :-). Hey, I even enjoy a good Cheech and Chong move, from time to time. So silly. If I want to put Chef John in his place, I just whine in a very distressed manner "Where's my shoes!" :-). It's from an incident, a very long time ago. But, he always gets this "deer caught in the headlights" look. :-).

Well, we seem to have dodged the bullet. There wasn't quit as much rain as forecast, but the rivers came to within inches of "very serious flooding." The airport levy held, so the Walmart is safe :-). There were some evacuations out in the east part of the county. Highway 12 over White Pass is closed, but it sounded more like landslides, instead of water. It's not raining, now, and I actually got the chickens out this morning without getting soppy wet. There was some localized flooding in the north part of Centralia, and some streets are still closed. But, it looks like I'll make it to town, today.

Oh, yeah. Over the years there's been some pipe dreams (awful pun?) about pipelines from the Pacific Northwest to the southwest, or California. But, they can't even get it together to run a pipeline from the Sacramento Delta to central California. Some talk about a pipeline from the Great Lakes to Texas. All about as likely as large scale migration to Mars. :-).

Poor Rumpole! Maybe he'll rally? I've had some pretty sick chickens that pulled out of it, after a day or two. Some not.

The lemon squeezer looks like a pretty nifty gadget. Of course, my kitchen drawers are full of nifty gadgets that never get used :-). If I'm every in the position of squeezing more than one lemon at a time, I'll look into it :-).

I don't think my bubble lights are LED. You need heat to make the bubbles. When I was a kid, there was a lot of them around. But, in multi color strings. You can still get them ... but, of course, I had to have all blue. Only one source and a bit pricy. The old lights had a small glass plug, in the tube, to make the bubbles. The new ones bubble quit nicely, but not with the ... vigor of the old ones. The phony Christmas tree arrived, yesterday. Haven't got it out of the box, yet. I need to figure out something solid to put under it, to get it up off the floor, a bit. Off to town. Lew

Allan Stromfeldt Christensen said...

@Pam

Hmmmm. This was all 15 years ago, and I'm struggling to remember if I ever had icky banana chips, and/or how I made sure to do it all right. I suppose it was just a matter of slicing them thin enough and possibly not using overly brown bananas? Those would be my guesses as I definitely didn't do anything to prepare them in any special manner.

Allan Stromfeldt Christensen said...

Chris,

I definitely marinated the beef prior to dehydrating, although this was just with grocery store bought marinades and such (likely full of HFCS and citric acid). Once I get back into jerky making I certainly won't be doing that again. Paralleling that, although I could marinate with some homemade hot sauces and such, that'd be quite a drain on the hot sauce supply. Your idea of cracked pepper and/or spices sounds like a better idea, but I do wonder how the flavour would "soak" in or stick to the beef -- when I marinated, the beef had to sit in the sauce in the fridge for several days for the flavour to come through. I do have a jerky making book or two, but packed away. I'll pass on the info once I find out.

Allan

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

About the potatoes, that is an interesting observation. They can be very heavy feeders, have you thought about giving that area a bit of a feed or trying a different variety - or even transferring the tubers to a whole different area altogether? The potatoes tend to be consistent flowerers down here during the January (your July), but I don't have the slightest clue as to what variety grows here. They do grow from the tubers too and it is really hard to dig them all up - like jursalem artichokes...

Thank you, Rumpole has ruled the roost with an iron claw for about 5 years now and it is her time, it is nice that the Silkies keep a close eye on her. Silkies have very pleasant personalities and they always seem know when one of the other chickens is about to die. They're not a productive bird, but I enjoy keeping a few of them in the chook collective. Have you ever kept silkies?

Yeah, it is in the eyes isn't it? You can tell that with dogs and people... Well he's a rescue dog and the previous owners used to yell at him a lot and probably beat him, so he is easily startled - but I am very consistent with him and have never had a problem with him at all. Some people he just takes an instant dislike too, but mostly he is all bark.

Avocadoes are as tough as and cold hardy down to -9'C (16'F) from what I've read about them, but you definitely have to keep it out of the wind - either hot or cold, other than that they're really low maintenance. And the fruit - Yum!

Yes, it is a real loss as he had important things to say. I guess that is why someone took umbrage to him. Because of the extreme UV here, I wear sunglasses outside of the house during the day 99.9% of the time. I reckon a lot of damage gets done to skin and eyes down here - certainly we have some of the worst skin damage of any country.

Aren't those birds clever gardeners? They also assist planting cherry trees here - which I'm assuming will grow up to be sour cherries and thus more to the birds preferences. Dunno, time will tell - there is certainly a lot of the seedlings about the place though - they're very hardy.

Yes, we swing from one extreme to another all year around. The wool jumper was very necessary last night. I sometimes wonder whether this is a feature of just this area or whether other parts of the world are more stable - but I just don't have enough experinece to know? Dunno.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Oh yeah, Will Ferrell - is feral - I still remember him vividly in the film "Wedding Crashers" when he was yelling: "Mum - Meatloaf!". Noooo! Very amusing.

Hey, can you grow sugar maples in your part of the world? They seem very hardy trees. Do you have all of your Christmas decorations up yet?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Haha! Hehe! Oh, it's so wrong... :-)! I reckon they took the definition of silly to 11 with that movie. Actually the award for the silliest movie that I have ever seen was: Harold and Kumar - Escape from Guantanamo Bay. So very, very wrong. Nuff said.

No, I don't reckon it was a coincedence at all that the name changed. People were probably searching for the meteorolgical term and came across the movie and they were going to themselves: What? Hehe! I can almost see Cliff Mass saying to himself: "We've got to get serious here, what can we call this thing..."

Sorry to take it back down a notch but I've heard that one of the Cheech and Chong guys is not so well nowadays...

Inches is a pretty close call when it comes to flooding. Do parts of your area survive with levee banks? Oh, you answered that in the next sentence. Hooray for Walmart. I recall hearing that some full time employees are on food stamps - which seems surreal to me?

Landslides are not good anywhere. I hope no one was caught by that one?

We've taken the silliness back up a notch - thanks for that pun - it was a goodie but also a groaner! ;-)!

That delta falls from a watershed out of SF. Interesting. No one is ever going to Mars and if they do, well they're done for. There really is some sort of crazy hair brained plan for some sort of colonisation involving a reality TV show, but I can't possibly see how it could be anything other than a pipe dream? Haha - I slipped in the pun too!

No, I suspect Rumpole is done for and I may have to give the coup de grace over the next few days... Well, she is five years old and she has had a pretty good life and great health over the majority of that time.

Yeah, that is why I mentioned it, but I forget that lemons aren't as readily available in other parts of the globe - if I had to buy them, I wouldn't use anywhere near as much of the fruit as I actually do. With this shocking hot and dry summer down here, I've been going around and tending the trees in the orchard and locking them down for a more or less drought survival mode. Most of them seem to be doing OK so far, but there is good ground water here - for the time being.

You know, I still have no idea at all what a bubble light is - I've never heard of them. Seriously. Have you got a link to what they are as maybe we call them something else down here.

By the way, I forgot to mention the other day that - thumbs up - for mentioning the Pogues. An outstanding Punk / folk act. One of my favourites of theirs is: The Pogues - The band played waltzing matilda. A very sad song and tale. The Irish can channel that emotion well.

I hope you trip into town was too eventful with all of the rains and rising rivers.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Alan,

That sounds very sensible with the marinade - it does make you wonder what is in all of those dressings - especially when the labels read like a chemistry experiment... The hot sauces sounds awesome. You got my wondering too, so I checked the instructions for the Fowlers Vacola Ultimate 4000 dehydrator (that is a mouthful for sure and I believe that it is an imported US dryer which is probably available over in NZ too?) and it says that the drying time is anywhere between 4 and 15 hours depending on how thickly the meat is sliced. What was interesting too is that it said from time to time you had to use paper towel to sop up some of the fats released from the drying meat and that also speeds up the process and improves shelf life - which they reckon was about 3 to 4 weeks unrefrigerated. I'm starting to really wonder what sort of processing goes into the dogs beef jerky strips to make them last much longer again. Probably sulphates or some other such chemical - but being pet food the labelling is pretty ordinary. You are raising some interesting food issues!

How is summer shaping up in NZ? It is pretty hot and dry down here - although there is still a little bit of green about the place, but not off the mountain range at all where it is quite dry?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

It is a very good CD and I encourage you to support triple j and oh yeah, I hear your problems with that technology. I won't tell you that I've recorded from the radio and have on mp3 all of the Hot 100's since 1993 - back when Radiohead first started... They had mp3 technology back in the mid 90's too but way back then it took a computer all night to convert 10 songs from wav files to mp3 files - let alone having the hard drive space to record a couple of hours of continuous music. I used a HiFi stereo video recorder way back then and could replay it at leisure. The quality is exceptional.

Joel is a good bloke who lives up in the PNW of the US and wrote a blog called: Of the Hands. He walks the talk and as an interesting side note, Lewis and I go way, way, way back to those early days where we used to entertain each other talking rubbish even way back then! Both Joel (and Lewis too :-)!) have excellent world views and live authentic lives. Respect to both of them.

Dorrigo is in a beautiful part of the world and I haven't spent as much time up that way as I'd like to. However, and please don't take this the wrong way, the people that I met to the north of east of there annoyed me and property prices there were insane (from memory). I just didn't get it at all. Sorry.

Hehe! No worries, I hear you. Hehe. I clearly recall Robbie Buck DJing on Triple J and he's on Radio National now so it must be good.

Cheers

Chris

Allan Stromfeldt Christensen said...

Meh. The weather is cold-ish here in Wellington. I'm from Canada, but I prefer and have acclimatized myself to the stinkin' hot Aussie weather.

I definitely didn't do any paper towel sopping with the jerky, and perhaps I got my timing wrong. Maybe it was just a few hours to a day with the dehydrating (unless I did so much of it at a time that it took longer to extract all that moisture at once), but it was definitely a few days with the marinating.

Cheers,

Allan (psst -- Allan with two Ls ;))

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris and Pam

Am I correct in believing that black bears don't eat meat, hence not particularly dangerous. Beware the mother with cubs perhaps. The grizzly is the dangerous one.

The discussion re potatoes becomes evermore interesting. I also had no flowers on them this year! It was a dull wet summer. They usually flower and I pick them off as soon as I notice them. Have never tried to grow them from seed as a result. No need really as I don't grow enough potatoes to last the whole year. Those I buy will usually sprout and I just plant them. Admittedly I buy varieties from the supermarket that I have learned don't seem to get blight.

Inge

margfh said...

@Pam
While our neighbors inflatable Christmas characters are atrocious (they are up to 11 of them now) they are actually really good neighbors and are always ready to lend a hand if needed as we are to them. My husband and I marvel that they have this display turned on all night and much of the day. I know our electric bill is always a bit higher due to our few Christmas lights and I can't imagine what there's is. They are a couple of modest means so I guess they just like it. We live on a dead end street so really no one sees this display except us and the people who come to cut Christmas trees at the tree farm that surrounds their property. Of course the customers are only there during the day and for only 9 days total.

Lost one of my Buckeye hens day before yesterday. I think it was probably a hawk. There are quite a few trees in the chickens very large run and I usually only have issues with hawks once the leaves are off the trees. At least she was one of the older hens and not producing as many eggs as before.

There is a Moose lodge between our home and town and they have rented much of their property to a farmer and are taking down most of their trees due to the cost of mowing the lawn and I imagine just a shortage of funds. The trees are/were mostly sugar maples and ash. The ash are all dying due to the Emerald Ash Borer but the maples were beautiful. They had old fashioned park equipment under the trees that my granddaughters would play on for hours (along with me and my daughter). Between taking out fence row, and tree lines and now this it seems like it's just going to be one big farm field of corn and soy around here.

We're expecting another 2 inches of rain here this weekend. It's been in the 40's and 50's here for the last few days and expected to stay the same through Monday.

Margaret

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Pam - I think I'm going to make some pumpkin cookies, this week-end ... and frost them with maple syrup frosting!

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Here's what bubble lights, look like.

http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=bubble+lights

Glad I didn't have any errands in Centralia, yesterday. It was cut off. 6" of water over the road. Saw a lot of standing water in the fields, and the rivers are really high. Road closures all over the place, but not where I needed to go. Very windy and rainy, overnight. Gusts to 30 mph. But, the whole thing seems to be winding down. Didn't let my hens out til late this morning. It was just too nasty. I suppose it will throw off their egg laying ... such as it is :-).

A major route from the east part of our county, over to Yakima, is closed. Landslides. No landslide fatalities reported.

We have quit a few levees, around. They're not much ... earth berms. And, I saw an article last summer that we're getting some kind of rodent (can't remember the name) that loves to burrow into levees and weaken them.

Forgot to mention I brewed up the turkey stock. Got about 20 pints out of it ... and three ice cube trays full. Got a lot of meat floating off the bones. Probably enough for three meals ... dressing? The stock is a bit on the mild side, but, as I use it, I can reduce it a bit more Had some rice, veg and stock, last night and the night before. It was quit nice. Lew

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

And Inge: Ok. No more sissy potatoes either. I try to pick out supermarket potatoes that look really clean, also, and if they end up showing signs of blight inside or outside I don't even put them into the compost pile. Black bears do eat meat; quite a lot of it, I think. It's one reason that we don't add meat to the compost pile. Though apparently that doesn't matter as they like other things just as much. Grizzlies certainly are the VERY dangerous ones. They live in the western part of the country and mostly prefer really uninhabited areas.

And, after I potted the avacado tree and hauled the extremely heavy thing in to live in the dining room next to the mango, my son informed me that when he lived in Spain the avacado trees grew 30 feet tall. I guess next winter this one will find out if he likes 17'F weather.

I've never even met a silkie in person.

I hadn't realized that the sun down there really was that strong. Kind of like where my parents live in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado; it's the altitude there, though.

We can indeed grow sugar maples here.One county over a ways is known for their maple syrup (known mostly locally, though, I think). We only have other types of wild maples at our house. Supposedly they produce a sap good for making syrup as well. I have also heard that a syrup can be made from the sycamore tree, which we have, too.

I am going to say that all my Christmas decorations are up, as I don't want to do any more except maybe cut some holly and ivy on Christmas Eve so it will be fresh.

I used to read "Of the Hands". I see at ADR (did you mention it Chris?) that he has a new blog?

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lewis:

Perfect cookie idea, Lew!

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Margaret:

I am so very sorry to hear about what they have been doing to the Moose Lodge property. What a waste.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Allan:

I had a double-L Allan relative.

Pam

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Allan,

Oh yeah, Wellington can definitely be cold, wet and windy - it certainly was when I was there. I reckon the storms rush through that strait between the two islands? Dunno though. Hey, you're really close to the Wellington to Picton ferry though. Have you done any walks in NZ? I've walked a bit in Tasmania and Victoria and they're pretty good too.

Man, when the temperature in the shade gets past body temperature (37'C) - probably somewhere up to two weeks per year - I start to feel the intensity of the weather... At least it normally cools down to usually no more than 22'C at night here - that is one benefit of the forest. In the city it can stay around 30'C overnight due to the heat island effect.

I don't have any experience with making them, so who knows? Yeah, the instructions said to leave the beef strips marinate for a few days so that is a good idea.

Thanks for the correction!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Your understanding of bears is way more than mine. I actually thought that a black bear was a grizzly bear. I've read of people dying whilst taking selfie photos of themselves with bears - which sounds like a very strange thing to do. Look at the nice bear, I wonder if it's hungry? ;-)! Koala bears - as you now know from a few months back here - don't pose much of a challenge. Actually, I often walk on the roads around here at night - often without a torch as my eyes acclimatise after a while, but it would be a whole different experience if I knew predator animals were lurking around each corner waiting to rip me into shreds...

It is an interesting conversation about the potatoes and I'm learning quite a lot as it progresses too. I re-plant potatoes that have sprouted, but I know the farms that they were purchased from so I have an idea that they may be either Kennebec or Nicola varieties - but then I occasionally mix up the sources so who knows what is growing out there.

The potatoes are reliable flowering plants here, but I will watch more closely. As to replanting the green seeds, I'll keep some aside early next year and plant them in a specific area and we'll watch and see what happens. It may be that I'm developing new varieties or varieties that are better suited to the soils and weather conditions here. Dunno though really.

The funny thing about the green seeds versus the sprouting tubers is that I reckon they both produce new potato plants where one will have slightly different genetics to the parent plant whilst the other (the sprouting tuber) will be a clone of the parent plant.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

For the Christmas blog entry this year I'll include a few photos from the way over the top Christmas lights in the next town over. They went feral again this year and I'd hate to think what their electricity bills would be.

Sorry to hear about the loss of your Buckeye hen. They're a great looking dual purpose bird too, so she would have been a challenge for the hawk. The deciduous trees in the run really favours the hawk. The chickens here are always frightened of the wedge tail eagles and for good reason too. They make a burr sort of a rumbling sound when the eagles are out and about and so they all stand to attention and look about their area. It is only a matter of time before a predator takes one of the chickens as you can't monitor them 24/7. I'm assuming that you have a rooster? I know I'll eventually have to get one.

By the way, the Buckeye looks like it has a bit of Rhode Island Red in its genetics, but it is a much more solid bird than those. It is an excellent choice. As a side note, I noted that the conservation status of the bird is listed as threatened. Do you breed them?

No! Tell me it is not true. What a shame because it takes 10 years for a sugar maple to mature enough to be able to tap the sugar in the tree, whilst the corn will strip mine the soil... Yes, they are very beautiful trees. I had to look up what a moose lodge actually was. JMG reckons that in the future, those organisations will return to their former place in society? JMG also hinted that the Retrotopia story will describe small holders as being able to make a living from their land and then those sort of practices may most likely not happen. I know of an old couple around these parts that run a mature cherry farm and they sell beautiful cherries every year. They told me once - just in passing - that the son was not interested in taking over the farm and the land and orchard would most likely be subdivided...

That is quite warm weather, and a solid rainfall too. The warmer winter weather always seems to attract heavy downpours here too.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

You're definitely teasing us all with stories of those cookies. Yum! As to the frosting, I've never heard of that icing? We have icing sugar down here, but not maple syrup frosting. Do they dehydrate the syrup, let it crystallise and then reduce it to powder? It sounds intriguing.

Thanks for the bubble light link. Wow - I've never seen or heard of those before. They look like they'd work like a miniature lava lamp, but in strings and with different colours on a Christmas tree. I would never have come up with that idea. They look fascinating. They're also often described as vintage so is it correct to assume that they are not manufactured anymore? Out of interest, how do they remain upright on the Christmas tree so that the oil in the bubble remains in contact with the heat exchanger on top of the globe? What a clever design and idea.

Wow! 6" of water is a total show stopper. Glad to hear that your trip wasn't affected though. You were very nice not to let the chickens out until the weather had settled down a bit - chickens can sometimes make very poor judgements in such matters and prefer their patterns to common sense. Just out of interest, is your Ranger a two wheel drive or four wheel drive? The new models of those vehicles here are crazy expensive because of the falling exchange rate. It is interesting to me that 10 years ago, no one here purchased a vehicle on finance, but now it is more common than not - I find that cultural change to be quite fascinating. I have what is considered to be an old vehicle at11 years since new now - about to tip into 12 years. Soon, I'll be able to apply for historic vehicle registration (which is cheaper, but vehicles have to be over 25 years old).

Speaking of debt, I went into the big smoke by train yesterday to enjoy some food and watch a film which was quite horrifying: 99 Homes. It wasn't a horror film, but it should have been, because it was recounting the stories of people working on the dirty end of the 99er foreclosures... Mate, everyone in the film had this sort of look in their eyes that said: "This can't be happening to me" and then every side of the coin had their stories. It was like watching a car crash in slow motion.

Nice to hear that no one was injured in the landslides. Does it take long for crews to clean up those landslides? It would take a massive amount of machinery, I'd reckon?

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Oh no - the rodents that ate levees (I'm channeling the very dodgy film - the cars that ate Paris). That is a disaster... I know of a lovely couple in this area that dug out a huge dam and they lined it with bentonite clay so that it was properly sealed and then the yabbies (really tasty local crustaceans) burrowed into it and all the water leaked out into the surrounding soil. Nuff said really.

Nice work with the turkey stock and I'm totally salivating reading about it and it is very clever to store it in ice trays. What a good idea for storing stock in the freezer! Thanks, I would never have thought about doing that.

Had a slack day today - even enjoyed a lamington (total yum as it had the jam in the middle between the two halves!), but tomorrow there's more manure to lug about the orchard and much grass and herbage that has to be cut back from around the fruit trees. It has turned cooler today which is nice and there was even a little tiny bit of rain. I spotted this article which was really interesting about the local weather because at this time of year a lot of the rain comes from the Indian (as well as the Southern) Ocean: Record Indian Ocean temperatures have potential to bring more rain to Australia, but El Nino lingers. My favourite quote was: "Having a fully fledged El Nino for the next couple of months, doesn't really mean anything" - no, I guess not... ;-)! Oh my, it is amazing how reckless we are being given how poor our understanding of things actually is...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

That is interesting to read about the potatoes as they may be affected by blight and still be clean - plus I don't know what sort of preserving and cleaning treatments the tubers may have been exposed too. The potatoes here that I buy from the farm gate are filthy as they are covered all over in soil! No, I'm really serious, I have to wash them before using them. I read somewhere once that - and someone please correct me if I'm wrong - that they last longer if the tubers are actually covered in soil, but I can't for the life of me remember the why of it? Dunno, maybe we need to experiment on this matter? What do you think?

Rats love meat in compost bins too and when I was living in Melbourne, the local community garden compost bin was teeming with rats... It was pretty horrific at night!

I thought that black bears were grizzly bears? Is there a brown bear too? I'm confused and personally, I'm unsure that I'd want to disturb any of them. Scaring a 6+ foot male kangaroo at night protecting his ladies and joeys is a bit of an exercise in reactions and escape routes - they are reasonably territorial, but they've mostly learned to keep off the roads so walking is not too much of a drama.

Haha! That would be something to see inside the house! Hehe! Nice one. I haven't seen them past about 15 foot here and they tend to be a more bushy growth with arms down to the ground, rather than reaching for the sky. It will probably be OK if it has had the chance to establish itself over the spring and summer - and most importantly is out of any wind at all. They look like an understory tree rather than an overstory tree, but I could be wrong.

Well, I definitely believe that you would enjoy her company should you ever be lucky enough to meet a Silky! They really are lovely chickens, but they are also very unproductive, but if you can factor that into your collective then they're pleasant.

Yeah, altitude does produce a strong sun too and you can get burnt in a short period of time on really cold days. Most days from here on until the end of January, the sun UV is listed as extreme and if it is dry, then the plant growth can actually cease so it strangely reduces the growing season - which would otherwise be very long. I'm experimenting with growing lots of edibles in amongst the hardy flowers and that provides them with shade so they get the heat, but not the UV... The Rocky Mountains are stunning! What a beautiful place to live.

Nice one - elephant stamp award! Sycamore trees are an invasive pest here - so who would have thought that you could tap them for maple syrup. I'm going to ask around as there are thousands of them... Nice one and thanks for the tip off! Have you ever heard of anyone making alcohol from the maple sugar? I don't see why it would be impossible?

Lovely! I hope that you enjoy the decorations!

Yeah, I mentioned that - I used to really enjoy Joel's writing he's good - I'll pop over there over the next few days and subscribe to the magazine. Should be fun.

Cheers

Chris



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi everyone,

Tomorrow, I'll be able to post comments - no problems, but I won't be able to respond to them as I have people visiting!

I promise to respond to any and all comments posted the following evening.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Odds and ends: Grizzly bears are the ones with the hump.

I also regard sycamores as an invasive tree, fortunately I don't have any. One can tap silver birches for 2 weeks in the spring.

I adore maple butter.

Potatoes: I have also been told that I shouldn't wash them but I do and haven't noticed that it makes any difference. Guess that it is important to make sure that they are dry.

@Pam especially

I was told never to put potatoes in the compost and that includes the peelings. Makes sense really re. potential blight.

Oh, I never put meat in either.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Maple syrup is rather watery when it comes out of the tree. It has to be boiled down, for a long time, to get the sticky syrup. They do it in huge, shallow pans. So, when I got the idea for the frosting, I picked up a small bottle at the store. Rather pricey :-). I have one maple tree that is about big enough to tap. They have a hobbyist sized tapping kit in the Lehman's catalog. I might get it and give it a whirl, just as an experiment. I seem to remember birch trees are also a source of sugar syrup.

There is nothing new under the sun ... at least in the cooking world :-). I thought I was so clever to put maple frosting on top of pumpkin cookies. Checked the internet and found at least 5 recipes. Of course, if I put in a little orange zest (not in any of the recipes), it would be "all new and improved!" But, for the maiden voyage, I think I'll stick to the tried and true. Sometimes I go overboard with too many flavors in my kitchen experiments.

Bubble lights were really popular in the 1940s and 50s. Now with the craze for Mid-Century Modern, a couple of companies are bringing them back. They have a clip on the base to hold them upright on a branch.

My little Ranger is a two wheel drive. I got the most basic model I could find, when I went truck shopping.

Well, I'd read about the ice cube trays ... somewhere. Then I filled up yogurt containers. Ran out of those and moved onto a few small freezer bags.

Cliff Mass has invented a new weather term ..."drunken systems." We have some real weirdness going on off the Washington coast. There are two low pressure systems that are staggering this way, and that. And, an unstable low that he can't quit figure out that is SE of those systems. Says he hasn't seen that configuration, before. Forecast for high wind, tomorrow.

Back to our last round of storms ... Highway 12, a major road from our county, over the mountains and into Yakima, is toast. It's closed from Packwood to Naches. The ski area is cut off. Repair time? "Indefinitely". There was an EF1 tornado in Battleground, Washington. Wind speeds of 104mph. That's just north of Vancouver, Washington. It damaged 36 homes and two businesses. The path was two miles long and it touched down, twice. 2 and 3 foot diameter trees were ripped out of the ground.

In Woodland, Washington, which is just north of Battleground, Interstate 5, the major north/south route ... the northbound lanes were closed all day due to a landslide. Train service between Seattle and Canada is suspended, due to landslides.

On the Puyallup River (about halfway between here in Seattle) 7 people from a homeless camp were swept into the river. All were saved.

And, just to round out the news of the weird, a 77 year old diabetic man in a wheel chair was picked up from one of the local old folks homes for peddling meth. Said he liked it in his morning coffee. Law enforcement doesn't quit know what to do with him. Lew

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lewis:

I briefly looked at Centralia at Wiki. Lovely town; it reminds me very much of the little smoke here - Charlottesville. You have lots more pines, though, and the flooding is phenomenal sometimes, as you said. Very unfortunate. Could the rodent that digs into levees be a nutria? I think they are tropical, so I don't know if they could stand the climate up your way.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I don't believe that I could stand to watch that homes horror film - it's too much like reality. I'd prefer some way-out science fiction.

Yabbies! And lets not forget the pobblebonks!

I certainly hope that the rain comes your way soon. Isn't El Nino a strange thing?!

I've heard that about potatoes liking to be stored in soil. I don't clean them up much before storing. I am wondering if they are much less likely to sprout if light and air can't get to them easily?

Any place teeming with rats would be horrific. What was that old movie?

Thanks for the thoughts on avocados. Now I have to find out if it's a case of Mr. and Mrs. Avocado, or if they are self-pollinating. There are still a bunch of them alive in the compost pile, but how does one tell the he's from the she's?

I didn't realize that plant growth ceased under conditions of extreme UV rays. I don't think that we could ever have that problem here, but stranger things have happened.

We have never tried to make any syrup from trees. We made a bit of sorghum syrup once. Sycamores are kind of scarce around our property. We have a medium-sized one in the front yard, but it leans (on a slope) toward the house a bit and I kind of don't want to antagonize it.

Enjoy your guests!

Pam

P.S. Hey, Chris, I finally must ask: What is an elephant stamp? I know it's quite an honor, and thank you very much, but can you post mail with it?

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Inge:

You are entirely right and I have been remiss - I should not have been putting my potato peels in the compost. I have a bad feeling . . . Maybe I'd better order some certified blight-free potatoes for this year's planting. They're really pricey, though. Perhaps the local co-op has some certified ones.

I love birch trees. I don't remember ever seeing any around here.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lewis:

Cliff should get an elephant stamp for "drunken systems"!

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Pam - Yes! Nutria. Another introduced invasive, species. Here's a link to a short article about them ...

http://wdfw.wa.gov/living/nutria.html

Yeah, Centralia LOOKS cute. :-). Not so much pines, as firs and cedars. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Had most of the leftovers for more stuffing. Wanted to use all those turkey bits from the stock before it got "bugs" in it. Got entirely carried away and ended up with two big Pyrex bowls of the stuff. One to nibble at ... once to freeze. :-)

Continuing the First International Chehalis Australian Film Festival, I watched "Strangerland", last night. Niccole Kidman, Joseph Fiennes and Hugo Weaving. A family with secrets and skeletons in the closet move to a forsaken outback town. Their two teen age children disappear into a huge dust storm. ("A dingo ate my baby!" ...Sorry, couldn't resist :-). A good movie, well worth watching. With a cast like that, how could you miss? Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Thanks for the explanation of Grizzly Bears versus Black Bears as I never even knew there was a difference. I doubt that the ecosystem here is rich enough that it could support such a large predator without major modifications to the soils. Incidentally, I still didn't understand the difference and it seems that some nice person put together a website explaining the difference with diagrams:

Get Bear Smart - Know the Difference

What was interesting is that at one point the text explains that one of the differences is that: Black bears have a flatter, “Roman-nose” profile... I'm only quoting part of that sentence for the purpose of humour because it seems very foolhardy to me to check such matters too closely! :-)!

It is sort of like snakes here, you don't go out of your way to annoy them or bring yourself to their attention.

Ah, the sycamores are feral here - I should get a photo one of these days as they grow as an understory tree beneath the mighty mountain ash (eucalyptus regnans) trees. Regnans refers to the reigning aspect of the tree as they are big, in fact they're the biggest flowering plants on the planet (and some historical sources reckon they were once bigger than Californian Redwoods)... There is a massive old stump up on the main ridge which is quite impressive and it is still alive today (it is probably about 400 years old to get that big).

Who would have thought to concentrate the maple syrup into a butter? What a great idea. It looks like the cooking process reduces the moisture content of the syrup. Very interesting.

That sounds about right for the potatoes. Fungi enjoys a bit of moisture - summer is the only season I don't really spot fungi here. I'd imagine you get quite the collection in your forest? Fungi does the heavy lifting in a forest.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Between yourself and Inge, I'm starting to look at maple trees quite fondly. They do provide good shade down here too. And you may both be happy to note that the sugar maples here are growing very nicely despite the hot conditions. I was looking at the effect of the shade from those trees and the herbage growing in that afternoon shade is still quite green. Eventually the orchard will have a solid canopy but not for many years yet.

As to the kit, I've seen people drill a hole in the tree, fit a plastic hose to that tree and then collect the syrup in a glass bottle at the end of the hose. It would be interesting to know whether the dryer conditions here mean that the original syrup is lower in water in the first place than in your areas? Dunno.

It is interesting that there are so many sources of sugar available inland in cool temperate climates, but salt is a tough one...

Haha! Yeah, too true, I'm not necessarily convinced that new in the cooking world is a good thing either! No, go overboard and experiment away in the kitchen as you never know whether you will achieve true greatness! Certainly it would probably be a better result than foams and food stuffs cooked in liquid nitrogen (which seems a bit excessive). I spotted a ice cream place that somehow used liquid nitrogen in the process - it seemed a bit excessive to me (not to mention extremely dangerous). You wouldn't want to be having a bad day and not concentrating properly when using that stuff.

Thanks for the explanation as I was wondering about that practical part of the bubble lights because the heat from the lamp has to transfer to the emulsion to get the effect or it won't work at all. So are yours the real deal, vintage as, bubble lights?

Yeah, the mid century stuff is having a renaissance at the moment which is sort of weird when you think about it because it was originally meant to be furniture for the masses and whilst it was originally quality kit, it was never intended to be high end design at all. And when you see the same stuff all these years on in high end artisan furniture stores - it kind of makes me wonder what is going on. I walk past the stores when I do my train to the city, food and walk runs.

It is nice to leave the forest every now and then and see the big smoke because after a couple of days up here, the world and its problems can seem a very long way away. Plus, I really enjoy the fine art of people watching whilst enjoying a quality coffee. ;-)!

Fair enough, that is probably all you need. I use the low range gearing in the Suzuki to pull heavy loads up the hill - it is only a little car you know! Hehe! The roads here can get pretty bad and the council barely manages to grade them once or twice a year and it can take a lot of nagging on the part of the locals to make that happen.

That was a very clever idea anyway!

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Haha! Drunken systems - that sounds very much like a down under weather pattern! ;-)! You know, my general view on the world is that not seeing a particular weather pattern before is a really bad thing. I do hope the high winds weren't too bad?

Oh my, that storm sounds like a total disaster and an F1 tornado is no good at all. It is a weird time of year for tornadoes to visit your part of the world. Here, yeah no problems, but in winter in your part of the world, just sort of seems weird.

What? Do you have homeless people in your part of the world? Oh my, the winters are brutal in your part of the world too. Wow. Oh my, it would be very unusual to see a homeless person in these parts - very unusual indeed. I've noticed that the incidence of camping at the local picnic ground has increased in recent years, but then recently it has decreased so I'm not sure what to think.

Haha! Too funny. Yeah, that sort of thing happens here too. Sometimes, I suspect the old dudes just want to enjoy their final years solving a few financial problems (or other problems) for their families whilst getting 24/7 care + social contact too. Sun Tzu advised that it was never wise to back your opponent into a corner where they have nothing to lose. I recall a situation a year or two back when a 78 year old farmer who apparently shot and killed a local council worker who had been giving the family grief for over a decade about their land management practices... There are ways and ways of engaging with people and I never back them into a corner which is a nasty business.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Loved the 'roman nose' and the 'shorter claws'! 'Please hold a paw out for me to look closely at'. I believe that grizzlys have been known to interbreed with polar bears.

Son has just seen a newspaper headline 'Death due to failed suicide attempt'.

Fungi do a good job in these woods as do ants. Have watched a tree stump close by, be completely disposed of by ants. They turned it into powder.

The woods remain extremely green. Yes the top canopy is clear of leaves, but at eye level the hazel, spindle and bramble are still fairly leaved. The ground is covered in ivy which grows upwards where it can.

@Pam
The one time I spent money on accredited seed potatoes they produced a very poor crop so I never bothered again. Have found that a variety called 'Lady Balfour' is fine but they may only exist here. Also the purple potatoes seem okay though I am not that fond of them. I never manage to spot them all as they look like lumps of soil. So some appear happily every year in the same soil. Have never had blight on them.

Inge

Damo said...

Hello all,

Just to back up a bit, an earlier comment was asking about a good plant for migraines and Fever Few (Chrysanthemum parthenium) was mentioned. Mrs Damo is a neuroscientist by trade and quite involved in medical research so I asked for her thoughts on its effectiveness. Do not take the following as qualified medical advice etc etc:

>>>>

It depends on what is causing the migraine. Most of the clinical trials that have been done were a bit dodgey.
Biochemically, there's a lot of really cool proteins in feverfew - not a lot of research done on all of them, but we know some. It fucks with smooth muscle and platelets (so effects blood flow), has some anti-inflammation and analgesic properties. It also plays with prostaglandin - so personally, I think it may be good for women who get menstrual migraines (this would also explain the inconsistency with some of the clinical data). It also kills some cancer cells which is pretty cool - most current research is looking at that.

My advice would be give it a go - but I think you'd need to take it daily, like a prophylactic rather than as a pill to make your migraine go away. Also, it can cause side effects and fuck with certain medications. Also, if you take it daily and then stop, you will get withdrawal symptoms.
:)
If someone is interested, this is an ok review article - they talk up a couple of the studies (and some were dodgey) but it's a decent guide.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3210009/

>>>

Hopefully that might be a useful starting point for anyone interested.

Cheers,
Damo

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

It was a horror film for sure! The problem was that I could see everyone's point of view and it was just a total disaster and I have to admit that I was a bit shell shocked at the end of it.

Yabbies are really tasty too - if you ever get the chance to sample one. They even make yabbie pies down here but you'll only ever see them at a agricultural show though. Yum!

Thank you and I just checked the 7 day weather forecast and there is no sign of rain. I've been getting little bits of drizzle at least once per week, but in the past 11 weeks there has only been more than half an inch on one week. It is dry, but still within the long term average - it is just a dry year. Towards the end of this week coming up it will get hot again for a couple of days in a row - I put the bushfire shutters up today as they work to keep the windows and the inside of the house cool - they really do work.

I store them in really heavy duty paper bags and despite being unwashed and in the dark and cool, they still sprout and then they get planted out all about the place. Dunno, there doesn't seem to be much you can do to stop them from sprouting.

Oh yeah, rats would be horrible. I think I saw that on Alice Cooper in the John Carpenter horror film - Prince of Darkness. That film scared me silly... Not to mention his remake of Dawn of the Dead...

Avocadoes are A and B type and they reckon you need different varieties in order for them to produce fruit, but I have seen lone trees in Melbourne full of fruit. If I have time after the replies, I'll grab the complete book of fruit growing in Australia and look it up for you.

Yup and there are 6 weeks of it still to go. I was out in the orchard today feeding the trees - it is a big job and there are probably still two days of work to do, but that is pretty much all I have to do in the orchard all year - except maybe a small drink for the trees before a prolonged heatwave.

That is very wise. Definitely don't antagonise that tree.

Thank you, it was a lot of fun and we made paella! Yum.

Wouldn't that be good? It would also be nice to earn a free coffee (and possibly also a free muffin) in one of those beautiful cafes in Charlottesville! The landscape is very similar to here with the mountains in the background.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

The turkey stuffing sounds very nice and it is always good to read that you are thinking about the next meal by putting some away in the freezer. Yum!

We did paella and sangria for the guests last night and I reckon it was pretty good, although the feedback on the sangria was that a too liberal hand had been used. Oh well. We lit the brazier, talked rubbish and watched the sun set over the horizon and the stars came out. It was a good night.

Glad to read that you enjoyed the film and oh yeah, those dust storms would prepare anyone for the realities of living on Mars. They're an unfortunate loss of top soil which usually ends up at sea - it can turn the day to a murky twilight and I remember the big one that hit Melbourne around the time of the Ash Wednesday fires in January 1983. Not good.

Speaking of films, I'll take it down a notch by letting you know that I was thinking about going and seeing: The Night Before. It should be very silly. :-)! What was the silliest Christmas film that you have seen?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Yeah, that was exactly what I was thinking. Honestly, who has time for proper identification in a serious Grizzly bear crisis? Hehe. Snakes are exactly the same, you get a quick look at it and you either stand very still which is not so easy to do and they travel past you oblivious to your presence or you run for your life! There isn't much middle ground in the heat of the day with reptiles...

No way, who comes up with those headlines? Do you believe that they were being ironic? Maybe? Dunno but it is very weird.

The moisture in your part of the world would really assist both the fungi and the ants do a good job of decomposing the timber back into the soil. I'm thinking of ways of making this place retain more moisture, but it takes decades - still I have to do something with my life! Hehe! A garden is never finished it is always a work in progress.

Oh yeah, ivy is an evergreen and I'd imagine that it plays an important part in stabilising the soil in your environment?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Forgot to mention that I stumbled across a small patch of blue corn flowers today which was really weird given I don't grow them here - I took a photo. Maybe the place is turning into a prairie system in parts? Dunno. They looked nice though.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

Thanks very much for the heads up on that plant and it is very good to hear from a neuroscientist on the subject. Go, Mrs Damo! It is interesting that it affects the flow of blood too. Doesn't it make you wonder how people would have observed any effects from the plant in the first place all those years ago?

On another note, I reckon your totem animal would definitely be a spotted quoll because in your excellent comment above you dropped a few f-bombs and that is definitely something that animal would do (if they could speak that is)! I'm trying to keep the blog and comments mostly family friendly because I get a lot of readers from the Permaculture News website and also the Earth Garden magazine and they may not jive with your language. Incidentally, I enjoy swearing with the best of them (accountants have to be able to swear because half of the time, you end up saying things like: why the **** did they do that?), but unfortunately wombats may get grumpy - actually very grumpy, they may get annoyed, they may get frustrated but always they are genteel so you would probably never, ever hear a wombat swear, so on the blog I'm guided by their actions and so you should be too! ;-)!

Otherwise your comment was awesome.

Cheers

Chris

Damo said...

Oops, sorry about the swearing. I will put Mrs. damo in the hot coals on that one as I just copied/pasted her response. I of course would never swear, except in the most trying and exceptional of circumstances!

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Ah, maple syrup. On my mind, right now. In New England and Canada, where most of it comes from, they even have purpose built buildings, to make it. Sugar shacks. Wood fires and huge shallow pans. By the way, it takes 30 to 60 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. If I do try my little experiment, I'll have to look into doing the evaporation, outside. Just doing my stock ended up with condensation on the inside of all my windows!

Another reason maple syrup is on my mind is ... I made over 7 dozen pumpkin cookies with maple syrup frosting, last night. They turned out, ok, but not what I expected. Next time, the cookies will get double the amount of spice that the recipe called for. They are lovely cookies, but just a bit tame for my taste. Now I'll rant about the maple syrup frosting... :-)

Not what I expected, at all. I got online to try and figure out, why. Now, I dearly love, and have a hard time resisting the maple flavored old fashioned donuts and the maple cream cookies (shaped like little maple leaves!). That flavor has no relationship to what ended up on my cookies. The difference is, in processed food they use "maple flavoring", which comes out of a lab. Somewhere along the way, someone decided "this" is what maple syrup tastes like. Still good, but not what I expected. Sigh.

I got new bubble lights, as I wanted all blue. I could have put together a string of vintage bubble lights in blue, from different sources, but the cost would have been over the top. I do, and don't, understand the craze for mid-century modern. There were some fine designers, at that time. But, I think I don't like it because I can remember the mid century quit clearly. Most of the collectors are younger folks ... who don't have clear memories of the lat 40s, early 1950s.

Well, the wind storm was a non-event, here. Further north, yes. But here, we only got gusts of 17mph, or so. It's supposed to be a fairly nice day, tomorrow, so I'll get the holly I need and do the Christmas tree.

Oh, we have homeless, all over the place. Even in our little towns, there's a homeless encampment in the hills, between the two cities. I've read books about it. It really started to accelerate when the rust belt started hollowing out in the early 80s. The crash of 2008 and the real estate collapse really added to their numbers. It started biting into the middle class. Might happen to me, someday. I think Mr. Greer has pointed out, a couple of times, that every time we have one of these downward bumps, more people fall off the economic ledge and fewer make it back.

Well, I generally steer clear of as much holiday nonsense as I can, but I can think of 3 or 4 Christmas movies I'm partial too. "A Christmas Story" ("You'll put your eye out with that Red Ryder BB gun!") , the Charlie Brown Christmas. "The Best Christmas Pageant, Ever" and ... "Nightmare Before Christmas." :-). Of course, I haven't had tv in years, so, haven't seen them in years. Not interested enough to get them from the library. Of course, there's "A Wonderful Life." An old film, but an interesting cultural artifact. Some of the Dicken's "Christmas Carol" movies are good. Some not.

Well, I'm off to Chef John's, today. To see all his Christmas tat and talk cookies. :-) Lew

PS: Don't know if I mentioned it, but, Friday morning I saw the turkey again in the back pasture. Strutting his stuff. :-).

Damo said...

RE: Xmas movies, a memorable quote comes to mind,

"What is your favourite Christmas movie and why is it Die Hard?"

As someone who grew up on VHS recordings of great 80s movies I find it both funny and true!

Damo (from a different account at work)